Ballinamallard United forced to rue missed chances

David Magowan of Crusaders clears from Mallards striker Ryan Campbell
David Magowan of Crusaders clears from Mallards striker Ryan Campbell

Ballinamallard United rued their missed chances against title chasers Crusaders on Saturday.

Three gilt-edged chances in front of goal and two goals in four minutes at Ferney Park gave Crusaders the three points to keep them nine points behind leaders Cliftonville.

A five-minute spell just before the break gave the visitors the lead after going a goal down.

But the Mallards paid for missing a number of chances in the first half when they looked to be on top.

David Kee tapped in an 18th-minute opener for United but there were poor misses from Leon Carters and Andy Crawford before the Crues pulled one back.

Gary McCutcheon levelled from the spot after Stephen Feeney handled inside the box and Jordan Owens fired in from a rebound to put the Crues ahead on 39 minutes.

The scoring was completed by Declan Caddell in the second half.

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter said he was pleased with his team’s response.

“I was disappointed at the goal we gave away in the first half and almost let them get two ahead. Getting the penalty took the pressure off us and the second before the break was good,” he said.

“We knew there was too much space available in the first half and we got much tighter in the second. We got really close to them and didn’t allow them to turn us.”

Baxter can now look forward to tomorrow night’s showdown with Portadown at Seaview.

“It’s just another game for us. Cliftonville are a good side with good players and are scoring goals,” he said.

“We don’t talk about catching them, but take one game at a time. We’ll prepare for our next game and see what happens.”

Ballinamallard assistant manager Brian Khan said his side found good space down the flanks in the first half which led to their goal and a number of other good chances.

“We had a few chances and went a goal up. Then we created another glorious opportunity with a great move down the right with Chris Curran. Andy Crawford would normally put these away, but not today,” he said.

“I feel the penalty decision allowed them back into the game.

“We just have to take more out of games. The margins are very tight, but we must take our chances.”

Reflecting on the rest of the season, Khan added: “Our intention is to finish in as high a position as possible. You can see the small margins that lead to winning and losing games and you could see that today.”